While cooperating with federal agents after they caught him selling more than $1 million worth of marijuana and marijuana extract on a dark web site, Skylaar Ford set up a different online profile and started selling ecstasy.
At his sentencing Wednesday for ecstasy distribution, Ford implored the judge to place him on home confinement so he could provide home care for his mother who suffered a stroke in Alaska.
U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown shared that she was 16 when her mother suffered a stroke and said she understands Ford’s desire to support his mother.
“But the truth is you’ve made that impossible,” Brown said.
She then sentenced Ford to seven years and two months in federal prison.
Ford, 24, made 1,684 marijuana sales on the AlphaBay darknet site between late 2015 and the end of September 2016, grossing more than $1 million, according to agent Guy Gino of the Department of Homeland Security.
Agents didn’t arrest him at that time because Ford agreed to cooperate, giving them access to his profile to communicate with customers, according to court testimony.
Later, agents confirmed that Ford had made 531 sales of ecstasy using another profile name on the AlphaBay site between November 2016 and his arrest in June 2017, while cooperating with federal authorities on the marijuana sales.
AlphaBay was a site on the so-called dark web where users anonymously buy and sell drugs, weapons and other illegal goods. Federal authorities moved to shutter the AlphaBay criminal market in July 2017.
A search of Ford’s home in Portland also revealed a package addressed to Ford and his dog named Orbit, which contained two bricks holding 494 grams of ecstasy wrapped in a blanket and heat-sealed packaging. Ford told authorities he ordered the drug from the Netherlands and it was shipped to a friend in Alaska, who then repackaged it and sent it to him, according to prosecutors.
Ford pleaded guilty in December to possession with the intent to distribute ecstasy.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Kerin called Ford a “sophisticated internet vendor’’ who had already received a second chance when he wasn’t prosecuted for the marijuana sales.
“At that point,’’ Kerin said, “they kind of gave him a pass.’’
Instead of stopping, Ford pivoted and sold a different drug to make money. While on pretrial release after his arrest, he also failed to complete a residential drug treatment program, walked away and went to his mother’s home in Alaska, according to court testimony. He was later rearrested on a warrant.
Ecstasy, or MDMA, is a stimulant commonly pressed into pills. The drug is popular among teens and young adults who frequent raves, bars and nightclubs.
Ford apologized to the court. “I chose to let drugs take over my life,’’ he said. “I’m ashamed and humiliated.’’
Ford asked the judge to place him on home detention in Alaska and his lawyer Jamie Kilberg submitted a video statement from Ford’s mother. “I have an obligation to take care of my mother,’’ Ford said.
The judge said she had to rely on Ford’s past behavior as an indicator of his future compliance with court orders. Because of the seriousness of the crime, his repeated offenses and his breach of the court’s trust during his pretrial release, Brown said the prison term was appropriate.
“People are dying from drug use every day … when people like you make the drugs so easily available,’’ Brown said.
— Maxine Bernstein
Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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